Too Many Brand Extensions, No More Chocolate Altoids

BOSTON – A CBS News report today talked about the idea that people have too many decisions, and at a certain point, they just shut down. They were reporting on work from the Harvard Decision Science Lab. The story mentioned consumers, and the frustration that we all feel.

In one display, she put out six samples of jam. In another, 24. Result: Shoppers mobbed the table with 24 varieties . . . BUT they were 10 times more likely to buy jam when they were staring at only six.

“Everybody wants to go to that store that offers you a thousand options, and that’s the best recipe to walk into that store and walk out and buy nothing,” she said. 

Question becomes how does this apply to brand extensions?

Certainly companies can see sales figures, but at a certain point, too many decisions wears the consumer out. Today, I saw some chocolate Altoids. They were in a tin, all melted. I wondered. How did a great brand like Altoids all of a sudden have a chocolate version? Isn’t the Altoid brand about mints and throats and chill, rather than goopy chocolate. The worst thing is that with any heat, they just melt up and start looking like Milk Duds.

I ran across the issue again when I tried to get Noxzema Shave cream at the Walgreens. There was only “Sensitive” version and the plain version was gone. This has been a problem for years.

How many types of Oreos do I need? Do I want to get graham cracker flavored Goldfish? At some point it has to stop.


  • Garland Pollard

    J. Garland Pollard IV is editor/publisher of BrandlandUSA. Since 2006, the website has chronicled the history and business of America’s great brands.

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  1. Agreed. It took me a couple of minutes to find “Milk’s Favorite Cookie” last time I needed an Oreo fix. They were there, but I had to wade through a bunch of fat-free, Double-Stuf, colored icing versions to get to the thing itself. Like I tell anyone who will listen, “I want the thing, not a version of the thing”.

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